Desperately Seeking A Natural High

When I drank alcohol I did so because I perceived booze to be an effective way to lift me out of my current situation. That may sound simplistic but essentially it’s the only reason why anyone would drink alcohol – it’s a mind-altering substance, ergo, people drink it in order to alter their minds. (If that wasn’t true then people would only drink alcohol-free drinks thus avoiding the potential negative health consequences of alcoholic beverages.)

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to escape reality. We do it all the time via a variety of alternative means; watching films, reading books, engaging in sports, and through consuming alcohol and ingesting other drugs. Much of the human experience revolves around plodding through somewhat mundane obligations while looking forward to enjoying whatever light relief we choose to engage in during our spare time.

My problem (and that of countless others) with choosing alcohol as a method of escape arose out of the fact that drinking brought about a miserable parallel reality, as opposed to the brighter, happier, more fun life that I imagined it would give me. Ever the hedonist, I perpetually opted for instant gratification over long-term happiness. Alcohol artificially made me happy for a short period of time, but then took vast amounts from me and my well-being as payment. The ratio of happiness to misery was woefully imbalanced.

As a drinker I failed to see that almost my entire existence was spent under the cloud of booze, one way or another; either I was drunk, hungover, or excited about drinking again. The sum of all this alcohol-related thinking amounted to an inability to perceive the world clearly. Crucially I failed to grasp that my whole personality would be different without alcohol thus the crutch that I so heartily believed in would no longer be required as a way of making it through life.

Without alcohol in my world I, and all those other people who have kicked the stuff out of their lives, am without an instant escape route from life. However, with all the ponderings and emotions and hopes and fears that we all experience on a daily basis, it’s natural to crave a break from ‘the norm’ from time to time. If you choose to quit drinking alcohol then I believe you have to find something which serves that same purpose (i.e. escapism), only without the negative consequences that crop up when (like me) you are bereft of a functioning off-switch.

I consider this to be a simple case of arming yourself with the right ammo to win the sober fight long term. You just need to work out what it is that lifts you out of your reality for those occasions when you feel the need to take a break. Even if the act itself only takes a couple of minutes, if the effect is powerful enough then it can be sufficient to alter your state of mind for a few days, if not weeks.

The best films in my opinion are the ones that make you feel differently about yourself and the world. You know the ones that make you feel like impersonating the life of the protagonist for a while (that is, until you remember that that was Hollywood and this is your regular existence and when you act in that way all your friends think you’re just plain weird so you resume the old you, pronto)? Those kinds of films are excellent for temporarily altering your state of mind. Carlito’s Way has this effect on me, as does Thelma and Louise.

thelma

 

Some novels can do the same – they fire you up and create an inner determination to be different to the way you’ve always been.

But for me, the best, most effective methods of elevating myself from everyday life come in the guise of fast and exhilarating sports; skiing, skydiving, zip-wires, running in the rain. These are the things that help the most. Their impact on my state of mind lasts far longer than the time it takes to scrub the mud off my legs in the shower afterwards.

skydiving

I don’t always find the time to do these things, especially after having my second baby. It was so much easier to pick up a bottle of wine and throw it into the supermarket trolley, but that attempt to achieve a quick respite from life pretty much always resulted in tears.

After any of the above activities, I have never ended up with anything other than a big, fat buzz and a smile on my face.

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5 thoughts on “Desperately Seeking A Natural High

  1. I love your booze alternative – high adrenaline sports. I keep searching for mine. I find yoga does a pretty good job, probably because of the meditation. Running would surely work for me, but I can’t really run anymore because of a bum foot. (Eating candy doesn’t work, though I have sure made a good run at it in early sobriety.) Listening to music in the dark sometimes does the trick. Maybe it’s not one of these, but all of them. Anyway, thanks for writing.

    Hilda

    • Hi Hilda
      Thanks for your comment. I am drawn to yoga but haven’t had time to get started properly on it as yet. It is one of my aims for when I have a bit more free time. Music really helps me too, especially in the car when driving in the countryside. It’s really just a case of whatever works for each individual, and keeping an open mind I think. I hope you find yours soon, and let me know when you do! We should compile a list for all the people looking for that little bit of escapism once the booze has been ditched!! Take care and thanks again, Lucy x

  2. I quit drinking Feb 24 2013….I then quit my job, put my apartment in storage, bought an RV and went on a roadtrip around the USA! I am now working in Yellowstone National Park for the summer….seeing four grizzly bears, a white pelican, 12ft snow banks, a massive waterfall and a full moon all last night, I am feeling way more than a natural high!!! The excitement, thrill, peace & fresh air makes me sleep soundly at night and excited to rise with the sun to get outside again! Totally don’t miss my hangovers!!

    • Hi KirstyUSA,
      Wow, this is so amazing!! You must be so thrilled that you chose to embark on this adventure. Wishing you all the best and thanks so much for sharing! Lucy x

  3. Well done! Happy to have come across this. I haven’t found anything that can naturally and regularly take the edge off and it’s been 7 years. Something’s gotta give soon. So glad you found yours.

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